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Lesson 12. Sprite Properties and Palettes > Importing Media Elements

Importing Media Elements

After your media elements are developed, the first step in creating a multimedia presentation is to import the media into Director and set some movie properties. Finished versions of graphics and sound files are included on the CD for use in this lesson.

Open a new file (Windows Ctrl+N, Macintosh Command+N).

An empty stage appears.

Choose File > Import to open the Import dialog box (Windows Ctrl+R, Macintosh Command+R).

You're now going to import the media elements.

Locate the Media folder in the Lesson12folder and click Add All.

All the file names appear in the file list.

Figure .

Click Import.

The Image Options dialog box appears.

Figure .

In the Image Options dialog box, choose Stage (8 bits).

The graphics for this project were created on a computer whose monitor was set to "millions of colors." Depending on the type of monitor and computer you are using, a "millions of colors" setting could be either 24-bit or 32-bit. This bit depth (also called color depth) refers to the number of bits of memory used to store information about the color of a single pixel in a graphic. With 24 bits for each pixel, there are 16,777,216 possible color combinations ("millions of colors"), which is sufficient to produce any shade imaginable for true-color graphics.

Although true-color graphics are aesthetically appealing, 24- and 32-bit graphics require lots of disk space, and because of their size, they can slow down your movie's performance, particularly when large images or large quantities of images are transferred from a CD or the Internet. Also, many end users either do not have the type of sophisticated computer monitor required to display true-color graphics or simply keep their settings at 256 colors (often a manufacturer default). For these reasons, most Director movies use a color depth of 8 bits, which allows for 256 separate colors. That may sound like a huge drop in quality from millions of colors, but in fact, 256 colors are generally sufficient for most projects.

The Image Options dialog box appears when you start to import graphics that have a higher color depth than your monitor is currently set to. The monitor's current setting determines the color depth for the movie, as shown (in parentheses) next to the Stage option in the Image Options dialog box. This dialog box asks whether you want to retain the graphics'current color depth (in this case, keeping them at 32 bits) or to convert them to match the stage's color depth (in this case, 8 bits). In this project, you are reducing the graphics to match the stage's color depth so you can learn more about the requirements for this very common scenario.


If you do not see the Image Options dialog box, your computer monitor is probably set to display "millions of colors." Before going any further, cancel the import operation and reset your computer monitor to display 256 colors; then redo the previous steps in this task back to this point.

For the Palette option, click Remap To and make sure the system palette for your type of computer is selected from the menu. (If the palette is already correct for your system, the Remap To option may be dimmed.) Then select Dither.

When you selected Stage for the Color Depth option, the Palette option became available. A color palette is a collection of discrete colors. When your movie is running on a computer that can display only 256 colors at one time, it is essential that all graphics appearing on the stage in a single frame contain exactly the same set of 256 colors—that is, the graphics must use the same color palette. In addition, the color palette of all graphics appearing together in a single frame must match the color palette assigned to the frame. Later in this task, you will set the movie's default color palette, which controls the palette assigned to the frames in your movie. In this step, you are making sure that all the graphics you are importing use the same color palette.

When you select Remap To in the Image Options dialog box, Director analyzes the colors in each image and then replaces those colors with the nearest matching color contained in the palette that you choose from the menu. When Director can't find a match for a graphic's color, the Dither option tells Director to approximate the color by using a pattern of similarly colored pixels. Dithering produces best results for photographic images or complex artwork. In your own projects, always be sure to experiment by importing images with and without dithering to see which approach produces the best results.

By default, Director chooses the correct system palette for your type of computer, but it never hurts to double-check. If you are using Windows, make sure System - Win is selected as the palette for the graphics you are importing. If you are using a Macintosh, make sure System - Mac is selected. These are default system palettes—the palettes that the operating system uses. The default system palette for your computer's operating system is a safe choice because it ensures that, while your movie is running, the colors used by other elements of the operating system's user interface, such as icons on your desktop, will not be changed.

Figure .

In this lesson, you are choosing your computer's default system palette because this is a good way to start learning about palettes. However, you are not required to use your computer's system palette. You can choose any of the other built-in palettes in the menu, or even create your own. For projects that will be distributed both on Windows systems and the Macintosh, you can even use the same system palette. For example, you can use the Windows system palette for a project that you are creating on the Macintosh. This is a very common practice for cross-platform projects, because it allows you to use the same set of graphics on both platforms. Otherwise, you would have to have two sets of graphics—one set with the Windows system palette and one set with the Macintosh system palette.


On Windows systems, using a palette other than the default System - Win palette can give a funny black-and-white appearance to the Director interface. This odd appearance simply indicates that a nonstandard palette is being used and does not affect the functioning of Director. You may, however, find Director more difficult to use and so should avoid using nonstandard palettes whenever possible.

Check Same Settings for Remaining Images and click OK to close the dialog box.

For this lesson, you want all graphics to share the same palette. Selecting the Same Settings for Remaining Images option applies the options you've selected in this dialog box to all graphics you are importing. If you do not select this option, Director displays this dialog box for every image that you're importing.

Save the movie as Gallery 1 .dir in your Projects folder.

Your Cast window now contains all the media elements you need for this lesson and for Lessons 13 and 14 as well. You won't need some of the media elements until you reach Lesson 14, so don't worry if you don't use all the cast members in this lesson.



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